This love is silent: Imagine he loved me

We can’t be faulted for who we fall in love with, just as he can’t be faulted for not knowing that I loved him, even for … 20 years.

love
I took this pic when in London and it’s my favorite shot. It brought me back to my first love, err, my first silent love ever…

My dear Beard! 

A friend of mine recently posted a super old photo on her Facebook. It was taken 20 years ago during the first day of secondary school when our class was trying to take a dump ID photo together. I was touched to see little me. I looked so tiny and silly in that picture, as did all of my classmates. Then I saw Curly. My first love.

He was in the second row of this picture, and he looked so damn cute with his naturally curly hair and a solemn dumpling face. Seeing him brought back so many memories, as this was someone who I had liked for twenty years.

And in those twenty years, the feelings gradually became something more of fantasy. I had begun to think of myself as silly for holding onto these silent feelings for so long. However, at that moment, none of that mattered. When I saw him, all of that doubt disappeared and I could forgive myself for anything I had previously thought was silly.

He was tall and had a good shape even though we were all just 12 years old those days. His cute and radiant smile melted my heart every single time. He was the most handsome boy in my class. He was a very gentle, kind, sweet, calm and smart guy. The most impressive thing was that he was pretty good in math and physics, which were a nightmare to me. He was always on the top of the best student list. But it wasn’t just me that liked him. All the girls in my class were crazy about him. I secretly named him Curly and kept my eyes on him whenever he was within 10 meters of me.

This was someone that I grew up with. Our houses were a 5-minute walk apart from each other. I saw him on the way to and from school. I saw him at school. I saw him at the market. I saw almost every day. And because of this, my feelings for him grew as well.

I called that my first real love. And Close to You by The Carpenters seemed like it was written about him:

“ On the day that you were born the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair
Of gold and starlight in your eyes of blue.”

However, Curly has never known what happened to my heart. He met his first girlfriend at a library when we were there studying for exams. I saw them smiling and flirting with each other; then they cycled together on the way home. I still liked him so much.

On his 17th birthday, I surprised him with a gift box of popcorn. I waited until 3 seconds before midnight—because I wanted to be the first person to wish him a happy birthday—then knocked on his door. When he opened the door, it looked like I had woken him up. I gave him the box, and I could see a look of disappointment when he saw that there was only popcorn inside.

We went to university separately. He attended a technical school, and I started living the dream, studying journalism. I still liked him a lot. On his 19th birthday, I painted him a beautiful bookmark then took a bus ride to his school at…mid-day just to say “Happy birthday!” We spent 3 hours together this time, as he invited me a simple lunch afterward.

Curly got a government scholarship and was going to study abroad for five years. Since he still didn’t know how much I was into him, I decided to tell him, once and for all before he left. But I was too scared of facing him and telling him my secret. Again, I hoped that by making him something he would realize the words that I couldn’t speak. I made a scarf and carefully wrapped it in a beautiful gift box with a small card. His mom received the box because he was not home that day, and I have no idea whether or not he got it.

Two years later, he returned home during a school break. We had a coffee by the river and talked. Suddenly, he looked deep into my eyes and told me that he kind of likes a girl. My heart began to race. Then it stopped beating altogether when he said: “You know her. The one who studied with you in literature class”.

Another two years had passed when I saw him again in Saigon. This time he returned home with another girl from Japan, his new girlfriend, who was very adorable and sweet. We had dinner together and even played some Korean games in a group of four: Curly, his new girlfriend, my boyfriend and me. He was nearby once again, and I still couldn’t keep my eyes off of him even though we were dating other people.

Three years later, I heard Curly just broke up with that adorable and sweet girl. I also broke up with my boyfriend and was full of hopes to see him again at the class reunion during the Lunar New Year. He’s still my gentle, kind, sweet, calm and smart boy though now with less hair due to the stress of studying and working in Japan. But the hair that remained on his head was still very curly. And he smiled at me.

silent love

Time flies. Now we are in our early 30s. He got back together with the girlfriend. Even more recently they got married, settled down and began a new chapter together in Japan, one that could last forever. I was traveling to Malaysia during his wedding (not that he invited me). I didn’t feel hurt or angry. We can’t be faulted for who we fall in love with, just as he can’t be faulted for not knowing that I loved him. I realized the truth—that I always imagined he loved me. Sometimes I even believed that we were truly in love though we’d never even kissed. I kept telling my close friends about our fake love story for such a long time. I kept lying to myself that he’d be mine one day, that he just needed a little time. Though time also tends to grow. And what I thought would only be a little time, has become 20 years.

If I’m honest, I feel good now. I still have my own, normal love life with some other great beards. Dating was always sweet at its best, and I have no regrets. Sometimes it’s good to not get what you desire so it still looks like a fantasy, an unreal dream, somewhere far off, something you may one day reach.

My dear Beard, are you ok if Curly is still in my heart, like a small pond, peaceful and pure, which I could sometimes revisit and swim in the waters of nostalgia?

Your girl,

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